Stress farm survives election night

There’s no denying a reporter’s job is stressful. We have daily deadlines – sometimes multiple daily deadlines – and are under constant pressure to gather all of the facts, write concise, detailed, well-balanced and informative stories and make sure, in the end, that every word is spelled correctly and the story is written in such a way that someone with an eighth-grade education can understand it.

Can we manage to meet all of those criteria with every story? Well, let’s just say we try. I learned long ago to stop stressing out about writing the perfect story – I just tend to forget to remind myself of that life lesson sometimes.

There’s all sorts of things reporters can do to ease the stress of the work day. Some will take a walk to the water cooler or catch some fresh air outside, the sports guys usually toss a ball of some sort in the air, and others – namely me – will reach for a victim from my stress farm.

My stress farm, complete with the latest addition, a stress peanut I picked up at Bertie County Peanuts in North Carolina.

I think I’ve mentioned my stress farm in a previous blog post, but I’ve had at least a couple of new additions to it in the last year. Neither one is a farm animal, although they are still very much tied to agriculture.

My stress farm includes two chickens, a dairy cow, a pig that doubles as a cell phone holder and a green tractor. A year ago, while at the Iowa State Fair, I picked up a stress can of vegetables; and on my visit last month to a peanut farm in Bertie County, N.C., I traded $2 for a stress peanut. It’s the first stress farm addition I actually had to pay for, but I just had to have it!

There are two things about my stress farm that you should know – the first is that I’m always looking for new additions to it; and the second is that I keep it on a shelf behind my desk. That probably isn’t the most ideal location for when I’m under stress, but I keep it there for a reason. If I had to look at it every day, I’d undoubtedly squeeze the chicken until its eyes popped out (don’t worry, it’s made to do that!) or take my stress cow and crush it until it looked like a soccer ball.

Now, I should be the last to complain about stress, having just taken that wonderful, two-week vacation, but the reality is – like other jobs, I’m sure – there’s a period of time where one must play “catch-up.”

Just as I was almost finished “catching up,” along came election night. And there I was, without my stress peanut. (I finally remembered to take it to the office on Wednesday.)

To be honest, election night wasn’t too bad this year. Aside from a few glitches and an incredibly slow-loading Secretary of State website, we were able to gather all of the information and deliver it to you, our readers, in a timely fashion.

Many kudos to the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer’s office for getting us up-to-the-minute election results, and to Christy Riley in Murray County for emailing us the complete results so we didn’t have to search through various pages on the SOS site. We are grateful for all of the help you provided the media to help ease our election night workload. (My stress farm thanks you too, especially since all of my stress animals are still intact!)

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